We are in the midst of an infrastructure overhaul, and we're now looking at backup solutions for our new servers. We will have a relatively simplistic server infrastructure consisting of 5 servers, 3 of which will need to be backed up on a regular basis. The intent of this question is not to stir up a heavy "backup procedure" debate, but rather to inquire as to the importance of making your backups in-accessible from the network.

Right now the procedure is our mail server gets backed up via tape, and our file server is backed up to 2 sets of external hard drives running RAID 1 in an enclosure. I alternate the drives each day, so we have 2 sets of backups and only one drive is plugged into the server at each time. Each week we take a full backup offsite for each server. With each of these servers, at any point in time we have a backup that is not connected to our network or computer that is, at max, a day old.

We are looking at employing a Drobo Elite 8 bay iSCSI unit that would be the central backup point for all of the backups. We'll still be taking backups offsite and I hope to be running regular offsite backups to our new satellite office. I know that it's not uncommon to backup to a NAS or a SAS, but recent events like the HB Gary attack (where backups were deleted) has me wondering how important it is to keep a copy of your data segregated from the network at all times.

I'm a relatively new Sys-admin, but I would greatly appreciate some insight on what would be considered best practices in this area. Any insight is appreciated.


It's all about risk. If you're worried that someone / something might get in and delete your online backups and it's determined that you can't afford that risk then your procedure should include maintaining that offline backup. If the effort and resources involved in making that happen outweigh the cost of losing the data you do have online, back to the point you can restore, then you should consider that. Typically the cost of data loss does not outweigh the cost of keeping it safe.

I think the biggest question in your situation is "What is the risk that something will get in and delete my online backups". You'll need to answer that for yourself, though. Keep in mind that the majority of attacks come from within and not all destruction is done from something with malicious intent. Accidents do happen.

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